12. Writing Workshops

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Important Workshop Ground Rules!
Personalities and feelings are a major element in any human community, and writing workshops are no exception. In order to keep the human interactions in a workshop friendly, cooperative, and constructive, it's crucial that you observe certain ground rules. There may be other guidelines that vary from workshop to workshop, but the following are nearly universal.

1. Respect your fellow group members, regardless of differences in age, stage of life, level of writing ability, or any of a hundred other possible sources of division.

2. Read the other person's work with the same care you expect the others to give your own efforts.

3. When offering a critique, start by saying what you like about the piece; then move on to what doesn't work for you. If you have trouble finding something positive to say, you're not looking hard enough.

4. Always direct your criticism at the work, not the writer. There is no room in a workshop for personal attacks or insults.

5. If you can, offer constructive suggestions for fixing problems. If you don't know how to fix it, be honest and say that, too.

6. Be honest, but supportive. Offer criticism as you would like to receive it.

7. When on the receiving end, listen quietly. Ask for clarification if you don't understand the criticism. But otherwise let the work speak for itself. Don't try to defend it.

8. After you've heard all the critiques, you may want to talk about what you were trying to do. At this point, there may be back-and-forth discussion about how you could better achieve your purpose.


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